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Competition Bill Dies in Connecticut

Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1997

Connecticut's proposed electric restructuring legislation, H.B. 6774, died after being dropped unexpectedly by the state Senate. Backers of restructuring legislation plan to reintroduce the bill next year when the new session begins in February 1998.

The bill would have opened markets to competition Jan. 1, 2000, coupled with a 10-percent rate cut. Under the bill, utilities would have recovered up to 65 percent of stranded costs for above-market nuclear investments and 100 percent for regulatory assets. The bill would have allowed securitization of those costs.

The bill's demise prompted Standard & Poor's to lower its credit ratings for Connecticut Light & Power Co. and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. The ratings remain on CreditWatch with negative implications. S&P had viewed the legislation as providing support for the former ratings. S&P acknowledged that the events in Connecticut had not directly affected Western Massachusetts, but explained that its ratings are determined with Connecticut Light and the Northeast Utilities system as a whole.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal expressed his disappointment, but urged parties to use the coming months to form a consensus. "The question is not whether we will have competition in the electric industry, but when," Blumenthal said. "Other states are adopting deregulation plans that will very shortly put Connecticut at a distinct disadvantage as we compete for new jobs and businesses."

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